The dust had barely settled on Prenton Park before Daryl McMahon was being grilled about 2018/19. With a police helicopter buzzing noisily overhead, the Fleet manager must have struggled to collect his thoughts on what 2017/18 had been all about, far less been able to present a coherent picture of its successor.
Yet McMahon has been planning next season while simultaneously plotting Fleet’s smash and grab of a play-off place and he’ll be back to work before he knows it.
“I will have a few beers on the way home now,” he said, “but after that it’ll be the busiest time of the season. It normally is at this stage, now we know where we are next season. We’ve got quite a bit of work to do to make sure we get what we want in the summer. After a couple of days, we’ll look forward to that.
“We’ll assess the season, it’s been a good [one]. There’s lot of bits we’d like to improve on and get better at but it’s probably not the time to talk about it today. But in the coming weeks, we’ll sit down and discuss that.”
Fleet will come under the microscope next season and aim to follow up a debut play-off campaign with something even better. But McMahon knows there are pitfalls, too, as Braintree Town proved after suffering relegation a year after contesting a play-off semi-final.
“I don’t think that’ll happen us,” McMahon said. “I don’t think we’re built that way as a club. I think we’ll look to get stronger so I’m sure that’ll be the yardstick we’ll be judged by next year which probably won’t be fair but we’ll deal with that next year! To try and do what we’ve done this year, next year’s going to be hard as well, and let alone go past it. But we’ll be trying to do that.”
In terms of recruitment, the Fleet boss acknowledged that his side will be seeking to carry more of a goal threat, citing the strike force that carried Tranmere through to Wembley success as the sort of firepower it takes in the National League – though the return of Darren McQueen is eagerly awaited in that department.
“We’ve just been focusing on what we’ve been doing to end this season,” he said. “But I’ve spoken to some players already that would like to come to us but until we knew what league we’re in, then we can start looking at it a little bit more seriously.”
Owner Dr Abdulla Al-Humaidi was at Torquay, Aldershot and Tranmere to see the Fleet’s season finale and McMahon praised his approach to the running of the club and support of his manager’s squad philosophy.
“He’s been a fantastic owner to work for,” said the Fleet manager. “It’s his fifth year now and we’ve nearly got into the Football League, well… the play-off final. He’s backed me, in particular last season when we lost to Chelmsford and Gosport back-to-back. He was brilliant with me in that period then and ever since then it’s been pretty rosy I suppose, we’ve been winning most of the time! And we’ve built a very, very good club and something we can all be proud of.”
As for the manager, he will take stock of the season past and the one ahead in tandem with a well deserved rest and holiday.